Sunday, 7 April 2013
The Other Miss Perkin - Lorna Hill
Rights negotiations take months and I am trying for three titles. The silence worries me a bit, but people do need time to consider offers and former publishers also need time to find rights and answer emails. It's also the run-up to the Book Fair Season (London and New York), so that'll be a priority for them. It's for a pony book and I've never had so much difficulty chasing down permission for anything. It could just be that animal stories aren't for my list, though I hope not. The historical novel is proving far less problematic.
So, I can't do anything more about rights this afternoon, but I can tell you about a charming novel for adults by Lorna Hill. I knew her as the writer of the Wells series and have a few of her ballet books somewhere, though they may end up for sale at some point as I didn't like them as much on rereading. I'm keeping my copy of The Other Miss Perkin as it's one to read with tea and biscuits in one go over an afternoon.
This is a fantastic escapist read in the vein of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. It has the same quiet charm and takes genuine pleasure in small things. Miss Perkin, a middle-aged Englishwoman who doesn't even own a passport, wins a trip to America. This book is set some time in the 1905s when flying was for the rich and every passenger was offered a champagne cocktail with refills. Miss Perkin can be summed up as one of life's copers. She's the housekeeper you'd love to have and a good vicar's daughter. She's dependable and predicable with a marvellous fantasy dream-life that she indulges with the help of magazines - probably gleaned secondhand from her employer. Her trip to America is fascinating as she explores New York on foot and stretches every cent to manage a trip to the Grand Canyon. It's a gentle Cinderella story as a millionaire sees past her dowdy image, faded clothes and careworn appearance to find her a very caring companion.
Once you've read this and enjoyed all the rail travel across the United States (from New York to the Grand Canyon) can I recommend Susan Coolidge's Clover and In the High Valley for Colorado scenes. Thanks to Project Gutenberg both are free. Then for New York and California travel, try Noel Streatfeild's The Painted Garden. You do need to find a hardback reprint for that as they cut all of that (over a chapter) from the Puffin paperback and I still think that's a shame.